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TRENTON - In a joint statement, Sen. Michael Testa, Assemblyman Erik Simonsen, and Assemblyman Antwan McClellan (all R-1st) warned that landlords across the state are becoming the invisible victims of the pandemic, as financial pressures from missed rent payments mount: 

“Right now, we are sitting on a time bomb when it comes to tenants and landlords, and if the government doesn’t take action soon, there’s going to be hell to pay. The state economy has been in shambles for more than a year. While the impact on small businesses, bars and restaurants and the resultant closing of almost 40% of establishments is a nightmare, the threat to residential and commercial landlords could be more devastating. 

“New Jersey’s eviction freeze, initiated March 19 of last year, protects tenants who can’t or won’t pay their rent, but unintended consequences are crushing landlords who are unable to keep up with their mortgage payments or pay for the usual expenses of maintaining properties. 

“More than 100,000 renters are behind on payments and face potential evictions when the moratorium is lifted, and they are falling further behind with every missed payment. 

“The crisis is magnified for property owners counting on monthly checks from tenants to pay for everything from snow removal to property taxes and maintaining structures. The loss of operating revenue is taking a severe toll – sometimes with tragic consequences – on hardworking property holders who have mortgaged their families’ futures on homes and businesses no longer generating revenue. 

“The state received billions of dollars in aid from the federal government, and the governor is sitting on a sizable surplus. It makes sense to use some of the money to expand programs to protect not only tenants, but also the property owners who provide the apartments, homes, storefronts and commercial structures crucial to our economic stability. 

“Without meaningful financial assistance from Trenton, we may witness a collapse of the rental market that could pull down home values across the state. 

“The eviction moratorium is a classic example of Trenton kicking the can down the road. It’s time for the governor to do the math and realize he needs to do something about this unfolding crisis before it is too late.” 

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